Rio brings forward mine closure, more jobs up in the air

Rio Tinto has brought forward the closure of its Blair Athol mine by nearly a year as more contractors at its Clermont mine face uncertainty.

This move comes as Rio closes offices in Sydney and slashes the number of staff in its Melbourne headquarters.

Last month the global miner announced that it would cut support and services world wide, with Tom Albanese stating that it would cut costs by around 10%.

It stated that these cutbacks will be focused on administrative and office roles rather than on the mines themselves, and has already begun cutting staff numbers at Clermont, the mine it opened to replace the declining Blair Athol coal mine.

Now it has shifted its Blair Athol closure timeline forward by at least a year, according to CQ News.

"What's happened is [Rio Tinto] have brought forward closing Blair Athol by 12-18 months from the 2014-2015 timeframe," one contractor told the paper.

The CFMEU have already raised fears over continued staff cuts across the thermal coal sector after Rio announced the decision to slash staff numbers at Clermont.

These fears were soon realised after Ensham announced it would be reducing staff levels by around 100 jobs at its coal mine.

While the mining unions have not supported Rio's move "at this stage, the union understands that any potential cutbacks will be made at the support staff level and not at the coalface," a union spokesperson said.

"The union looks forward to receiving further detail from the company so that it can engage in direct discussions with its Clermont members as to any potential workplace changes.

"Our focus is on ramping up Clermont Mine and identifying opportunities to reduce costs while doing this," they stated.

"A review is under way, and although the details are to be worked out, it will unfortunately mean redundancies."

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